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Jared Diamond Education. (2013) 'The World Until Yesterday What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?' New.

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Jared Diamond  Education.  (2013) 'The World Until  
   Yesterday What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?' New.  

    February 2, 2013
    7:00 - 8:00pm EST  

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.. [applause]
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>> let's leave bursts check whether you will be allowed to hear me okay in back. can you hear in back-to-back is a great pleasure to be back in philadelphia today and to be back in this wonderful library r than small blinds, instead to give me an idea how many of you here this evening may find what i am about to tell you of practical value, would like to ask you to raise your hands to one or the other of two questions that i now pose. first, could those of you raise your hand who either are or over age 65 or hope to live past age 65. [laughter] or have a parent or grandparent over 65? [laughter] many of you. all right. then, the second group, let me ask, please raise your hand if you are under 65, have no intention of living past 65 and have no parent or grandparent to
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past 65. raise your hand. [laughter] all right. those of you in the first group, you are the ones to whom i think my talk this evening will be of practical value. [laughter] those of you in the second group, talk will not be of practical value, but i think use it will find the subject fascinating. [laughter] i'm going to talk about growing older in traditional societies. this subject is just one chapter of my "latest book which compares traditional small societies with our big bottom society with respect to many aspects of society, such as growing old, bringing up children, health, danger, a settlement disputes, war, religion, and speaking more than one language. this book is my most personal book, my book of, i think, the most practical value to our daily lives, and, as a shameless author, i hope it is going to be
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my best-selling book. [laughter] it is about one i have learned from spending a lot of my time in traditional tribal societies in new guinea of the last 60 years, and it is about what friends and others have learned from other trouble societies around the world. the essence of living in big, industrial societies and permanent housing with central governments to make decisions with writing and books and the internet. most people live past age 60, where we regularly encounter strangers, just as i am encountering you this evening, and we are most of us eating food -- food grown by older people. we forget that every one of those things arose very recently in human history. humans have constituted a separate line of biological evolution for about 6 million years. all of the things that i just mentioned did not exist anywhere in the world 11,000 years ago. they arose only within the last 11,000 years, and some of them,
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such as the internet, have the phenomenon of most people living past age 60, rose only within the last century or two. the ancestors of all of us here living under traditional, trouble conditions until virtually yesterday, measured on that 6 billion year time scale of human evolution. until you're -- europeans started to expand around the world 500 years ago trouble societies' still occupied large parts of all of the continents. the tribal societies have recently been coming under the control of modern societies with state governments to the point where today the last travel society not yet under state control is confined to small areas of new guinea in the amazon basin. those troubles societies which constituted all human societies and most of human history are far more diverse than are our modern societies. all big societies who have
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governments were most people are strangers to each other are similar to each other and different from travel societies in many basic ways, regardless of whether our big societies are american, german, chinese, is really, or whatever. tribes constitute thousands of national experiments, they constitute experiments from which we ourselves may be able to learn. for example, today if you think that modern american children enjoy too much freedom, if you think modern american children are not given enough children, you cannot perform the decisive experiment of designating 17 american states where kids have to remain strictly subservient to their parents and grandparents, 17 other states where babies will be given the freedom to make their decisions and to play to play with a sharp knives at the age of two on board. sixteen other states were children continue to be treated as they are today.
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if we can only carry of the controlled experiment we come back in 40 years, compared children from all those states and quickly sell the question, whether it is better to raise kids with more freedom, less freedom, or the same freedom that they enjoy today. unfortunately, it is impossible to carry out that societal experiment in the u.s. but, there are thousands of traditional societies in which children already did grow up with either much more or much less freedom than in the modern u.s. by examining what actually does or did happen in traditional societies that are much more varied than modern american society, we may be able to learn things of practical value to our -- to decide how to raise our kids to achieve our older people, remain healthy and other things that we care a lot about. tribal society should not be scorned as primitive, miserable, but they should also nobile di
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-- the idealized as happy and peaceful. when we learn of travel practices, some of the more horrifying, but there were other tribal factions which one we hear about them, we may admire and envy them and wonder whether we can adopt those practices ourselves. to get some perspective on how we treat elderly people in western, modern society, let me tell you the opinion of a friend of mine from the seat -- islands in the pacific to have visited the united states. there were some things my friends admired about the u.s., other things that he did not like about the u.s., but what he most loathed about the u.s. was our treatment of older people. he almost shouted at me indignantly, you americans throw away your older people. those were his words. by that, he meant that most old people in the u.s. in up living separately from their children and separately from most of their friends of earlier years
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in separate retirement homes for the elderly. in fiji and other traditional societies older people, instead live out there lives among the children, another load to other relatives and lifelong friends. the treatment of the elderly varies enormously among societies, for much worse to much better than in our modern societies. at the worst extreme, many traditional societies get rid of their elderly in one of five increasingly direct ways. the most indirect effort to get rid of the elderly is just to neglect them and not to feed them or clean them until they die. the second method is to abandon them when the group moves on. the third method is to encourage older people to commit suicide. a fourth, more direct methods, is to kill older people with their own corporation. for example, among the people of papua new guinea, a widow who does -- whose husband has just
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died asks her brother's or sun to come strangler. the fifth and most arrest to the direct method to get rid of the elderly is to kill them without consent or cooperation. in more tribal societies did children abandoned or kill their parents, it happens mainly under two conditions. one is an nomadic hunter-gatherer societies. end up physically incapable of transporting all people who cannot walk with the able-bodied young people already have to carry their young children and physical possessions. the other condition for getting rid of all the people is in society's living in marginal or fluctuating environments, such as the arctic or deserts' where there are periodic food shortages and occasionally there is just not enough food to keep everyone alive. it whenever food is available has to be reserved for able-bodied people, still
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capable of contributing to the tribes survival and for the children who would grow up to be the tribe's future adults. kines still hero? >> yes. >> okay. to us modern americans it's seems horrible to think about abandoning or killing your own sick spouse or elderly parents, but what else can those societies do? they face a cruel choice. they are old people that had to do it for their own parents and now know what will happen to them. for any of you who are still inclined to blame those tribal societies for abandoning or killing the elderly, let me quote the words of winston churchill about the behavior of the japanese admiral at the battle in october 1944 when the admiral had to choose between two equally horrible options. winston churchill said, those of
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you who have endured a similar ordeal may judge him. in fact, many of you, many of us here have already faced or will face an ordeal similar to the ordeal faced by those cinematic or arctic or desert tribal societies when you are in the position or the relative responsible for the medical care and all person. and when you are the one who has to decide whether and when so hold further medical interventions and win just to administer pain killers and sedatives or -- $46 or parent. at the opposite extreme in the treatment of the elderly, the happy extreme, new guinea farming societies where i have been doing my fieldwork for the past 60 years. the village society of my friend and many other sedentary traditional societies around the world. in those societies older people are cared for him, said, remain
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valuable, and they continue to live in the same high or in a nearby hut near their children, relatives, and lifelong friends. in traditional new guinea societies where there are not dentists and where older people gradually lose their teeth and can no longer choose their -- to their own food, their adult children chew the food until it is soft , but the food and took up, and give that soft, pre-chewed food to the toothless old person to eat. i don't know if any modern western society in which such devoted care of older parents is retained. there are two main sets of reasons for this variation among societies in the treatment of all people who. the variation depends especially upon the usefulness of older people and on the society's values. first, as regard to usefulness, older people continue to perform useful services in traditional
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society and also in our modern societies. one use of all the people in traditional society is that often their still affected by producing food. for example, among the path of hunter-gatherer's in tanzania, grandmothers of the most productive women and finding in digging up while commendable routes because grandmothers have much more experience than younger women at finding routes and often still have enough strength to dig them up. hence measurements show that the growth rate of eight grandchild increases with the amount of time that the grandmother stands to get food for the kid. while older and together men no longer have the strength needed to spear a lion, and the men bay still be useful in their old age at following animal tracks and capturing slow or small prey. a lifetime experience of aldermen means that they know much more than a younger man about
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the habits of each species of prey animal and how best to hunt that animal. that value of the experience of older people in traditional society has also been confirmed from modern farming societies. among 19th century canadian farmers and 19th century finnish farmers, each decade that a grandmother survives past age 50 was correlated with two extra grandchildren of that grandmother eventually surviving because of the grandmother's contribution to the resources while still alive. another traditional use less of older people consists of babysitting their grandchildren, thereby freeing up their adult children, the parents of those grandchildren, to go hunting -- hunting and gathering food for the grandchildren. another traditional value of old people is in making tools, weapons, baskets, ponce, textiles. in fact, older people are
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usually the people who are adept at those things. the older people usually other leaders of traditional society, and the people most knowledgeable about medicine, religion, politics, s songs, and dances. tribal elders. to some extent, that is still true today. the average age of american presidents, 54 years old. finally, older people in traditional society have one more huge significance that would never occur to us and our modern, littered society where our sources of affirmation our books and the internet to. in contrast, in traditional societies without writing older people other repositories of affirmation. their knowledge spells the difference between survival and death for the whole society in a time of crisis caused by where events which only the oldest people alive have had experience for example, 1976, i visited a
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remote polynesian island in the pacific ocean. in order to do an environmental impact study for proposed mining projects. as part of my study, i asked islanders tell me the name of each species of forest, tree, and the polynesian language and to tell me for each species weather the fruit or seed was edible. they began to answer me. this effort is eaten by people. that fruit is eaten by bats, but not by people. this tree's root is eaten by birds, not bats our people, but that fruit is not edible to people or any animal, and so on. then the islanders came to a tree which they said people eat this trees fruit, only after. [indiscernible] i did not know what that is, but i let the islanders keep talking about more food eaten by people or by birds or by bats, and then they came to another just eaten
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by people. and then several more evenly. what is this? why are there some you eat only after. they answered me. but inside of which was sitting a woman who was now 80 years old, virtually blind, and unable to walk. explaining to me that when that woman, that old woman was only a teenager the island had been hit by an enormous cyclone, which they called. [indiscernible] which destroyed all the gardens and much of the forest. that left people at risk of starving, and so they survived by eating certain species of wild fruits that they normally would not lead to, but that old people alive at the time he remembered having eaten at the time of the previous cyclone. from historical records a
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pacific island cyclones, i calculated that it had hit the island around 1910, when the old woman the people were showing me was just a teenager. she was the oldest person still alive at the time of my visit. if another big cyclone should hit the island now and again destroy the gardens and much of the forest, the only thing that would save the population from starving to death would be and memories of that one of woman. the sole person alive who remembered what fruits that are normally considered inedible were safe to eat when nothing else was available. her knowledge was what would keep her fellow islanders alive until their gardens begin producing again. in the u.s., though, we do not rely an aural memory. we, instead, like the answers to questions in books or bullet. any incident in all my years working on the pacific islands, that story of that old blind
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woman in the hat on the island made me appreciate the overwhelming importance of the knowledge of all the people throughout human history before there was writing, nonliterate traditional societies where the knowledge of all the people spells the difference between life and death of their entire society. the ways in which older people are useful in traditional society. their usefulness varies among traditional society and contribute to variations in the society's treatment of the elderly. the other reason is that society's cultural values which varies somewhat independently of the usefulness of the elderly. for example, large societies that have had centralized governments for thousands of years, there is particular emphasis on respect for the elderly in east asia associated
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with the philosophy of confucius and with his doctrine of helio, obedience, respect, and support for elderly parents. cultural values emphasize respect for older people, contrast with the low status of the elderly in the united states . the older americans are at a disadvantage in getting jobs. for example, sociologists carried out the experiment of committing dozens of job applications in response status by prospective employers. all of the applications gave fictitious names to women, and all the applications are identical except that behalf of the applications give the woman applicants ages 25-40 or the other half of the application date ages 45-60. the result of the experiment was that employers were twice as
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likely to call a woman aged 25- 40 for a job interview as a woman aged 45-60. another example of the low status of the elderly in the u.s. is an explicit policy in hospitals called age desk -- age-based allocation of resources. listen to those words. hd space allocation of health care resources. that expression is a cruel euphemism. it means that if hospital resources are limited, if there are only a certain number of hospital beds available or if only one donor heart becomes available for transplant or if a surgeon has decided to upgrade on only a certain number of patients from a technical glitch [laughter] >> should i take off my glasses, i think?
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some of you may have seen that james bond movie of about 15 years ago in which that evil head of a hamburg media network had the lights turned out in his old building by james bond and the eagle head says short technical interruption. i'm not an evil media head. we have a short technical correction. i was just talking about aids-based allocation of health care resources. american hospitals have an explicit policy of giving preference to younger patients over older patients on the grounds that younger patients are more valuable to society, supposedly, because they have more years of life ahead of them . there were several reasons for this low status of the elderly in the united states.
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the highest status of the elderly in east asia is based on the asian emphasis. the los status arises from several american values that replaced it. which places high value of work so that older people who are no longer working are respected. the virtues of self-reliance and independence so that we instinctively scorn older people who are no longer self-reliant and independent. a third reason is our american cult of youth that shows up in advertisements. they always depict smiling young people, even though all people, as well as young people, buy and drink coca-cola and beer. just ask yourself. what is the last time you saw a coca-cola or beer ad depicting
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set smiling people 75 or 80 years old? the only american ads featuring old people are ads for retirement homes, pension planning and adult diapers. well, what has changed in the status of the elderly today? compared to their status and traditional society? there have been a few changes for the better, and more changes for the worse. big changes for the better include the fact that today we enjoy a much longer lives, much better health and our old age, and much better recreational opportunities. rarely a experiencing grief from the death of your own child. whereas in traditional societies parents routinely have to grieve over the death of many or most of the children. another change for the better in the lives of all the people -- older people is that we now have specialized retirement facilities and programs to take care of those people.
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changes for the worse begin with a cruel reality that we now have far more old people and fewer young people than at any time in the past. that means that all those old people are more of a burden on the few young people and that each old person has led -- less individual value. when i visited in 1976 there was only that one old woman still alive who remembered how to survive after 1910. if there had been hundreds of survivors of the 1910 event still alive, any single one of those hundreds of survivors were not have been of individual value. another big change for the worse in the status of the elderly is they breaking of social ties with age because older people, their children, and france all move and scatter independently many times during their lives. the average american moves every five years.
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and so older people are very likely to end up living distant from their children and living distant from the friends of their use. yet another change for the worse in the status of the elderly is a formal retirement from the work force, carrying with it a loss of work french ships and the loss of the self esteem associated with work. perhaps the biggest of all changes for the worse in the status of our elderly is that they are objectively less useful than in traditional society. widespread literacy means that they are no longer useful as the repository of knowledge. and we won information we look it up in a book or bullet instead of finding some old person task. state mandated systems a formal education mean that children are taught at particular hours on particular days particular young , full-time professional teachers rather than being taught by all of the older adults as part of everyday life.
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finally, the slow pace of technological change in traditional society means that what someone learns as a child is still useful when that person as old, but the rapid pace of technological change today means that what we learn as children is no longer useful 60 years later, and we older people are not fluent in the technologies essential to survive in modern society. example, as a 15 year-old high-school student i was considered outstandingly good at multiplying 2-digit numbers because i had memorized the multiplication tables, and i know how to use logarithms an airport at manipulating a slight. today most location tables and logs and slide rules are utterly useless because today in the heat can multiplied eight digit numbers accurately and instantly with a pocket calculator. conversely, i command a 75 and
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incompetence and skills essentials for every day life, my family's first television set that required at 1948 amelie three laws of the quickly mastered, and of switch, a volume knob, and there was a channel selector not. today. just to watch television program on the television set in my own living room i had to operate a 41 biden tv remote that i still find utterly confusing although much of the have explained it to me to watch television. have ted ellis, 25 year-old son and asymptote talked me through , while i try to push those wretched 41 buttons. what can we do to improve the eyes -- lives of the elderly u.s.? that is a huge problem. in my remaining few minutes today i can offer just a few suggestions. one value is that they are increasingly useful or offering
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high-quality high up -- child care if they choose to do it. as more and more younger women into the work force and as fury and parents stay home as full-time kids. compared to the usual alternatives of pay babysitters and day care centers, the grandparents offers superior motivated experienced health care. they gain experience from raising their own kids, usually they love their grandchildren and they are eager to be permitted to spend time with their grandchildren, unlike other care givers, grandparents don't quit their babysitting job because they found another job with higher pay and more social security and medical benefits. but there is also a downside to it grandparents as babysitters. increasing age at which couples are having babies today, the couple's parents, often don't become grandparents until they're in their 70's and 80's, whether they no longer
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have the necessary physical stamina to babysit they're grandchildren. a second value of older people today is paradoxically related to their loss of value as a result of changing world conditions and technology. at the same time, all the people have gains in value today, precisely because of their unique experience of former conditions that have now become rare because of rapid change but that could come back. for example, only people now in their 70's or older today can remember the experience of living through the great depression, the experience of living through a world war, the experience of living through food and gas rationing and the experience of debating whether or not dropping atomic bombs would be more horrible than the likely consequences of not dropping atomic bombs. most of our current voters and leaders and politicians have no personal experience of many of
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those things. many of older americans do. unfortunately, all of those terrible situations could come back. even if they don't come back, we have to be able to plan for them on the basis of the experience of what they're like. older people, all the politicians and voters have that experience. younger people familiar politicians and voters don't have that experience. there are many values of older there are many things that older people can no longer do, there are other things that they can do much better than ever people. a challenge for our society is to make use of those things that old people are better at doing. some abilities, of course, decreases with age. they include abilities that tasks requiring physical strength and stamina, ambition, and the power of novel reasoning in a narrowly circumscribed situation, such as figuring out the structure of dna best left
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defined under the age of 30. conversely, valuable attributes have increased with age including experience, understanding the people in human relationships, ability to help other people without your own ego beating in the way you're a vice, and interdisciplinary thinking about large databases such as biogeography and comparative history best left to scholars over the age of 60 or best of all over the age of 75. hence, all the people are better than younger people and supervising, administering, advising, strategizing, teaching , and sympathizing. i have seen these values of older people with so many of my friends in their 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, friends who are still active in to their 90's as farmers, lawyers, and surgeons. in short, many traditional societies make better use of their elderly and give their
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elderly more satisfying lives than we do in modern big societies. paradoxically nowadays when we have more elderly people than ever before that and healthier lives and with better medical care than ever before, old age, as in many respects, miserable than ever before. the lives of the elderly are why we consider this constituting a disaster area of modern american society. we can surely do better by learning from the allies of the elderly in traditional society. but what is true of the lives of the elderly in traditional society is true of many other features of traditional societies as well. of course, i am not advocating that we all give up agriculture and metal tools and return to hunting and gathering and live in small tribes and resume making travel war. there are many of these respects in which our lives today are, of course, far happier than those of small traditional society.
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to mention just a few examples, our lives are lager, materially much richer and less plagued by violence that of the lives of people and judicial society. but, there are also things to be admired about people in traditional society than, perhaps, to be learned from that . their lives in traditional society are usually socially much richer than our lives, although materially pour. their children in traditional society are often usually more self-conscious, a more independent, socially skills, and precocious that of the lives of our children. they combine traditional society coming essentially never diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and the other not communicable diseases that would be the causes of death of most of us here in this room today, and that is not just because they come into initial society, don't live long enough to get diabetes and as the disease is, even when you make comparisons of the same age. people living traditional
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lifestyles are far less likely to get diabetes and heart disease and those other not communicable diseases that are americans of the same age. features of the modern lifestyle predisposes us to those diseases while features of the traditional lifestyle protect us against those diseases. other chapters of my book deal with other aspects of society. any of you who have been involved in civil or criminal law cases, any of you here no more divorce a couple, brother and sister who had been involved , you know that the last thing the american system cares about is emotional reconciliation. instead, the government cares about right and wrong.
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people in the miserable as a result. warfare, another two chapters in my book, a traditional society involving killing not just young soldier-age men, but women and children, and there are reasons for that. child-rearing is quite different interests of society, and that provide some big surprises that contribute to the fact that children in traditional societies are more independent, self a short, capable of making their own decisions, socially precocious. children, babies in traditional society are carried vertically upright, facing forward, not horizontal the s in a baby carriage or vertically facing backwards, and that affects development of an neuromotor skills. in traditional society parents respond quickly, within ten seconds, preferably within three seconds to an infant crying. let the baby cry itself out, and traditional societies, lots of
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alternate apparent models. every adult in the village or tribal is apparent model, and so that means more social role models for a child to learn from them just parents. dangers played out differently in traditional societies that our societies. people in traditional societies without police and doctors are much more intensive than are we to the risks of an event -- events which each time they carry a low risk of getting hurt , but you're going to repeat that event many times in your lifetime. people in traditional societies judge dangers realistically. today at the most dangerous thing i did was to take a shower. you may say, what is dangerous about that? my chances of slipping in the shower unless someone in a thousand. just read the obituary column of the newspaper and you will see that a common cause of death or crippling for older people is slipping in the shower on the sidewalk or on a stepladder. if your chances of getting her
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slipping in the shower are only one and 1,000, you think that is good. forget it. i intend to take a shower every day for the next 15 or so years of my life. that means 5,475 showers, and if my risk of slipping is one of thousands, going to get killed five times before i live out my showers for the next 15 years. [laughter] religion plays different functions in traditional societies than modern societies, and that lets one imagine what is going to be the future of religion in the next century. malt bilingualism, and the united states is the basis, multilingual and as -- multilateralism is routine, and one surprising discovery of the last five years is that the best protection that we now know of against the symptoms of alzheimer's disease is not your pseudo guru or any medicine, being bilingual. being bilingual gives you five years protection against symptoms of alzheimer's disease,
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and we don't know yet whether be modeling will gives you five years protection. multiplied times the number of your -- those are just some examples of what we can learn from traditional society. i hope that you find it as fascinating to read in my book about traditional society as i found it to have written it. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> thank you very much, dr. diamond. at this point we will take questions. the way it works is you raise your hand and i will call on you and we will get a microphone to you. who would like to start us off? there is a lady in orange on the aisle there. >> hi. think you. that was really fascinating.
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i have a question, though. your book is about what we can learn from traditional societies, and it seems like you're talking about a lot of different activities, some of which are beneficial in some of which are not. was just wondering if you have a ruler something for deciding which things we should imitate and with things we should leave. >> it is true that i am not saying that we should imitate everything in the traditional society, nor am i saying that we should despise everything in traditional society. some of the things that we should not imitate are obvious. we should not ms -- et de strangling our -- [laughter] parents. we should not imitate starving to death. we should not imitate killing the babies, the babies born week. things that we should imitate art anything that is likely to result in children being more self confident and more socially skilled. we should certainly imitate anything that results in our
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mitigating diabetes, heart attack, or stroke. we should imitate anything that makes us attentive to the correct -- attentive to the realistic dangers rather than obsessing about terrorists and plane crashes that killed very few people compared to showers, but you are correct that there is a middle ground where it is not so clear what to imitate. for example, if the case that in traditional societies people never, never, never spank their children. yet, there is a debate in american society and european society whether or not you should better child. in sweden it is a criminal act to specter children. germany, at least another of in germany, it was considered not criminal, but stupid not to spend your children, so that just illustrates the things where we have to figure out whether it makes sense were weather, for example, you are going to take your infant into bed with you. it is debated. some pediatricians -- many
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pediatricians advise against it, yet every baby in human history slept in bed with its parents and tell the last five or 10,000 years. that is a long winded way of saying some things are obviously good, some obviously bad, some things we have to figure out. >> right here in the quarter. >> i was intrigued by your talking about the freedom that the children have. i was interested in knowing what you're saying to parents today about what is better, either to have more freedom for the kids are less freedom? >> that is a really good question to follow up on your question because how much freedom should a baby have? in new guinea society, when i began working new guinea i noticed that virtually all new guinea's highlanders had scars, fire scars on their arms. i doubt they have gotten burned.
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most of them that burns as infants because in new guinea where children are considered independent people capable of making their own decisions it is also considered the baby playing next to a fire can decide whether will roll into the fire or not. babies learn from that, but i think that few americans would argue that a baby should have the freedom to roll into a fire. among many traditional societies babies are permitted to play with sharp knives. i think most of us are certainly my wife and i did not that our kids play with sharp knives, but there are lots of other things that children are permitted to do in traditional society which go entirely against the grain of our micromanaging our children. so your question gets to the previous question. some things we certainly should permit our children to do. other things, although traditional societies do, it would make you uncomfortable. >> yes. against the wall on our left.
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>> you have been talking about how traditional societies impact us. what about the other direction? places like new guinea where these people are emerging very badly from their traditional society, corrupt and many people have a very difficult time. can you make any suggestion on how that would work better? >> the flip side of the coin about the significance of the traditional society for us is the impact of the modern world of traditional society. and every traditional society that i know of has its fears about the health side world and whether it wants to acquire some of the stuff. traditional people, when they see steel axes, they will steal taxes instead of stone axes because there are sharper and
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hold their edge lager. they want matches rather than fire, they want clothing, manufacture clothing instead of shipping. they won umbrellas. one medicine. one education and opportunities for the kids. so throughout the world traditional societies are bugs -- likely to acquire some things from modern outside society, but this acquisition is selective. and the important thing is that traditional society should be free to make their own choice rather than be dragged into the modern world against their will, notably by being exterminated, driven off their lands. >> this gentleman. >> i have a huge voice. one thing that i noted when i lived in hawaii for 20 years is that many, many grandparents were raising their children, their children's children --
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excuse me, they're grandchildren , in effect. and my mother was 42 when she had us, which was almost end impossibly unfashionable age. and i noted the same to things, that the older the parent was in many -- the grandparent was in many instances, the children wound up almost losing a generation of perspective, alternative because of their grandparents. they grew up more racist, frankly. they grew up more superstitious. they grew up with a kind of the those that did not necessarily suit them for their generation that they were interesting. that is the one caution that i
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had when i look at what you are suggesting. >> sure. fair enough. all of you parents of young children, you have got to figure out, how much caregiving do you want to turn over to your parents, the grandparents of the children. in many cases, many of my friends are utterly thrilled to have their children looked after by their grandchildren to the grandparents. others say there is no way -- seriously. so and not making a universal recommendation. i am merely saying that nowadays under modern circumstances, grandparents, if they want to do , more valuable in the past. >> a question right in the front row here. could you a for the microphone please. >> just as a follow-up on that, when you are comparing rolls,
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somebody can be a grandparent, would assume, and a much underage in many traditional societies than you would, perhaps, become a grandmother. so that could affect. in your study, how did you compensate for age-related roles? >> i knowledge my lecture, and i mention a caveat. the downside -- there is an upside to increased role of grandparents today with more and more child bearing age people out in the workforce, but the downside is exactly as you say. people becoming grandparents, not in their 30's and 40's, but 70's, 75 which means that we are finally a grandparent. we will have less energy that
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when i was 40 years old. so it's something that has to be around. >> the gentleman on our left in the second row. >> i heard something called the grandmother theory which suggested that human brain development was encouraged long ago when grandmothers took over care of the children so that a mother could do other forging activities such as way, way back in forging days. and thinking about that verses changes now with their grandmother is not necessarily part of the picture. >> that, grandparents, grandmothers taking over responsibility for the kids while the parents of the kids go and forage. that observation, as teammate, it is widespread. it is also the case that mentioned. and i would say, the case in
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most, of many, all of -- hunter-gatherer's societies that have been observed. grandparents are still alive. often it take responsibility, stay in camp and look after the children, looking after their grandchildren come thereby freeing up their own children, the parents of the grandchildren to go off hunting and gathering, freeing them up. widespread. [inaudible question] >> brain development. >> general for brain development. that would be -- >> possibilities and educational possibilities of information being passed on my grandparents. parents don't do as much as grandparents to. it. >> grandparents have 30 or 40 more years behind in to acquire information to pass on to grandchildren.
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>> the gentleman right behind you. >> the business in warfare between traditional and modern societies, could use a more about that please. >> the differences in warfare between traditional and modern societies, as a big surprise to people who hear about them. often traditional societies are idealized as peaceful, but there are lots of studies of traditional tribal societies, and the cruel reality is that the percentage of traditional people who died violent deaths his higher than in almost any stay society for which we have information. if you want to compare the worst of the worst, germany, russia, and poland during 20th century. the chances of dying of war or violent death in any of those countries during the 20th century are several times lower than the chances of dying of
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violent death in most traditional societies, and the reason is that the people in traditional societies are more vicious but that war is an intimate affair in modern societies with governments because the governments declare war and eventually declares peace. when the government declares peace hot headed young men who want to start a war again are restrained from starting a war, whereas in traditional societies without a centralized government there is of a government that restrains the hot heads from going back to work. so the reality is the traditional societies among war almost constantly. modern societies only intermittently, and the numbers show that the chances of dying of violent death and traditional society is something like ten times the chance to attend best deterrent the chance. that has been a big surprise. >> another question. yes, the gentleman to your right there. >> a tangent for more. we just see in our own country,
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in recent months, too much pure evil, if you will. could you imagine in a traditional society a mess -- mass killing of children? the virtues of the traditional society prevent that. >> not only can i imagine it, sadly, it is common. >> what? >> sadly it is common. friends of mine have said, of course pau we're going to kill the women and, of course, we're going to kill the children because the women are going to give birth to warriors, and the children are going to grow up and the warriors. yes, it unfortunately is true. >> but is there ever the indiscriminate wanted killing the way that there is here? we are not worried about warriors. it is just there is an active insanity or easy availability
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the weaponry, so somebody has not virginity in a ticket to muffle ever reason. is there that wanted violence the way that there is? there seems to be, at least more recently. >> yes, if you read chapter three of my book which relates a whole series, this is an unhappy subject, and i could read chapter three of my book, but people, the reality, people would not like it. in fact nominees dollars did not want to believe the societies of the left, but there are reasons for it. if the governments can do favors, governments can declare war and make peace and traditional societies without governments cannot. >> the question. >> the gentleman. >> culturally you have a few -- you have seen some societies value older people more.
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expanded upon that at some length. i was wondering if they do things more economically and efficiently that incentivizes that behavior at a certain level? of a better at taking care of their elderly that we are? >> of the better at taking care of the elderly and we are? traditional society better taking care of the elderly that we are. it depends upon what you mean by better. our society certainly can give much better if -- can give medical care to the elderly, traditional societies cannot. our society's by and large failed at providing a socially satisfying life for the elderly because the reality is that with americans moving every five years is very difficult to reconstruct the lifelong social circle for an old person. whereas in traditional societies people spend their lives where they grew up, and so you're
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going to spend your last year's surrounded by your children and their relatives and difference, nothing special is required to produce that. a mixed bag. >> we have a lot of questions and not a lot of time. a jump in right behind you, and then we will come to the front. >> thank you. i wonder if you can say anything about the relationship that each society has with their own environment in terms of the sustainability and projection for survival that they have? >> the big question. the relationship of people with their own environment in terms of sustainability and survival. there are variations. traditional societies that have exterminated, of realized and exterminated resources are important. the reason why when you step aside this building you're not going to see on the street an elephant or a lion or a giant
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ground sloth or camel or any of the animals that used to be in america 14,000 years ago is very likely because hunting of large animals of north and south america by human colonists. and the famous economist from the university of indiana, and this may be a good note, in fact, on which to some things up with the last question. what is interesting, of course, the circumstances under which traditional societies manage their resources well and under what circumstances to the over exploit the resources as we're doing today. and to some of a life work for which began a nobel prize in march to sentences, traditional societies were much more likely to take could care of and to manage their resources under two conditions, first, if they could exclude of ciders and be the only ones themselves utilizing those resources. secondly, if they have confidence they would pass on
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the resources to bear children. if there were confident it would pass on that land, those forced to their own children, and there were sure that they could keep outsiders out and it would take care of the resources where is that they could not exclude outsiders and if there were not confident that they could pass on the resources to their kids then they would leave him correctly. somebody else will chop the trees down, so we might as well do it ourselves. that is a good note on which to end. [applause] >> is there a nonfiction of your book you would like to see featured on book tv? send us an e-mail. tweet us twitter.com/booktv. >> many years ago louis brandeis wrote, perhaps, the most officitit office in a democracy isze the office of citizen. ..
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democracy, of course, is rooted and based in the notion of an enlightened citizenry. some of us think that democracy is defined by the ritual of voting. of course in voting, voting is important in a democracy. but voting takes place all over the world. it takes place in democracies. it takes place in dictatorships. it takes place in totalitarian societies. voting alone does not mean that we live in a free society. we live if a free society when it is based on an enlightened citizenry that takes that enlightenment into action, causing those whom weou